So this is how Facebook sees me

You know what they say: on Facebook, you are not the customer; you are the product.

Facebook collects our identity and activity (updates, likes and shares) information.

Preview of “Facebook” profile

This information is processed by Facebook’s algorithms, and churns out targets for advertisers to promote their products to.

FB algorithm

Naturally, Facebook keeps their algorithms secret. Though, much has been made of the potential of social network data for behavioural targeting, and how it can reverse the declining effectiveness of advertising. The promise is that the adverts will be shown to customers that fit the profile, only. That is, advertisers do not waste their money promoting their products to customers that are not interested in them; and users do not have their screen cluttered with adverts that are not relevant for them. It is deemed to be particularly useful to expose users to brands – or even products – that they were not aware of.

So, it is with some… how shall I put it… ‘incredulity’ that I realised that Facebook’s powerful algorithms seem to think that I am a middle-aged, toothless, tunic wearer looking for love.

Fb semiotic

That’s right. Based on my activity on the social network, I seem to be on the market for dental implants, colourful tunics and online dating:

FB advert

It’s priceless!

What about you? Does Facebook ‘get’ you or, like me, are you getting all sorts of weird adverts?

4 thoughts on “So this is how Facebook sees me

  1. Wonderful observation, Ana. I have to say, that I generally pay little attention to the adverts. What I see when I log on to Facebook are mainly location-based adverts. Somehow, the algorithm thinks I still live in Latvia. At least partially, because I get many Latvian adverts. And now of course also some German ones. The one on top today, is actually something I would be interested in: it’s for the DriveNow programme of BMW in Düsseldorf. However, I think it’s displayed for me, again, solely based on location. Another one is for hotels in a certain area from booking.com. That one is pretty accurate, as I searched for hotels in that area on booking.com earlier this week. The rest is, basically, spam and useless.
    I think it’s great how you’ve looked at it, and wondered about what it says about your Facebook behaviour. I also think that if the ads are not at all in line with what you are really interested in, the algorithms either don’t work, or you do a great job of not fitting into boxes. The latter one I consider a good thing :).

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    1. Hum… your comment made me think about what in my behaviour might trigger these recommendations. The dating site might be because I did not feel the relationship status field – in fact, my better half is not even on FB. The tunics might be because I ‘liked’ a Indian fashion website (because it is run by someone I know and our students were doing a project on). But… I am at a loss regarding the teeth!!!

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      1. Haha. Well, maybe the targeted advertisements are not being targeted as well as they could be. Which makes you wonder what you pay for when you advertise on Facebook…

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